How to complain

Contact the business about your complaint

We want to help you make your complaint to the right place, so you can sort it out fast. This page explains how to complain about different financial issues.

Contact the business about your complaint

The first step you should take to resolve a complaint is to contact the business that holds your account or sold you the product or service, and explain the problem. You can do this by phone, in person, or in writing.

Make a formal complaint to the business

If you're not satisfied with the answer from the business, or if the problem can't be sorted out, ask the business for their complaints handling procedure or look for it on their website.

Formal complaints should be made in writing, so in your letter or email you should:

  • include the word 'complaint' in the heading or subject line
  • include your name, contact details and the date
  • set out the problem clearly and stick to the facts
  • include copies of relevant documents such as receipts or invoices. Keep the originals and a copy of your complaint letter.

If you don't receive a response in a reasonable time or you're unhappy with their response, you can approach an independent complaints scheme

Sample complaint letters

Here are some sample complaint letters about financial services that you can use as a guide:

Sample letter of complaint about insurance (RTF, 31KB)

Sample letter of complaint about financial advice (RTF, 31KB)

Sample letter of complaint about bank account (RTF, 22KB)

The Financial Rights Legal Centre also have a sample letter generator to help you create professional and legal letters to send to financial service providers like banks, creditors and insurance companies. Letters about credit, debt and banking are only applicable in NSW, but the insurance-related letters can be used all over Australia.

Contact an independent complaints scheme

Nearly all financial services, energy, water and telecommunications businesses belong to an external dispute resolution (EDR) scheme. EDR schemes hear complaints for free and can be a simpler alternative to resolving disputes in court.

EDR schemes can help you if:

  • you are not happy with the business' answer to your complaint
  • the business makes you an offer you are not satisfied with
  • the business does not respond to your complaint within a reasonable time.

Smart tip

If you are unsure where to go with your complaint, call ASIC's Infoline on 1300 300 630. If you have difficulty speaking or understanding English, call the Translating and Interpreting Service directly on 131 450. 

Interpreter icon

Financial services EDR schemes

FOS handles complaints about banking, credit, loans and debt collection, life insurance, superannuation, financial planning, insurance broking, stockbroking, investments, managed funds, timeshares, general insurance, finance and mortgage broking. They cover complaints where the value of the claim is $500,000 or less.

They do not deal with complaints about compulsory third party, private health, public liability and workers' compensation insurance.

CIO handles complaints about credit unions, building societies, non-bank lenders, mortgage and finance brokers, financial planners, lenders and debt collectors, credit licensees and credit representatives. They cover complaints where the value of the claim is $500,000 or less.

The Tribunal handles complaints about providers of superannuation, retirement savings accounts and annuities. You must contact the trustee of your superannuation fund before you go to the SCT. The fund then has 90 days to respond to you.

EDR scheme changes from 1 November 2018

From 1 November 2018, a single EDR scheme, known as the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA), will replace the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), the Credit and Investments Ombudsman (CIO) and the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (SCT).

The new scheme will begin taking complaints from this date.

Current schemes will continue to receive and deal with complaints up to, and including, 31 October 2018. If you have a question about an existing complaint, you should contact your current dispute resolution scheme.

For more information about the new scheme, see ASIC's media release.


If your utility provider won't help you, you can complain to one of the ombudsman schemes below. Energy and Water Ombudsman Services in each state provide advice and conciliation services for consumers with complaints about energy or water providers.

Video: How dispute resolution works

Mortgage help - Dispute resolution video

Find out how dispute resolution works with your lender. If you are not happy with your lender's decision you can take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) or the Credit and Investments Ombudsman (CIO).

Complaints about consumer goods and services

State government agencies can help with complaints about consumer goods and services.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has a complaint letter generator available on their website. Use this tool to create a letter of complaint to send to the business you purchased the product or received the service from.

Complaints about prices and competition

The ACCC (ACCC) and the state government agencies listed above can help with complaints about prices, competition, unfair market practices, product safety, franchises and advertising. You can contact the ACCC on 1300 302 502.

Reporting scams and financial misconduct

If your complaint involves a scam, go to the report a scam webpage.

If you believe there has been misconduct relating to the management of a company, its directors or officers, you can lodge a complaint with ASIC.

If you're not sure who to contact about your complaint call ASIC's Infoline on 1300 300 630.

If you're unhappy about the service you are receiving or you aren't sure whether something is illegal, don't be afraid to complain. 

Related links

Last updated: 02 May 2018